ORLANDO | While it is subjective to define another person’s art, two words stand out in the mission of Deacon Frank Falotico’s art: inspiration and remembrance.
A longtime resident of Palm Bay, Deacon Falotico works in multiple mediums – from pencil to paints, and from sculpting in marble and wood. While he has created hundreds of nature scenes and landscapes, his spiritual art depicts heartwarming and heart-wrenching imagery depicting Scripture, the Stations of the Cross, and feast days. While he enjoys his artwork himself, he has always felt called to share his spiritual artwork with others. Way back in 1997, he posted an Around the Diocese listing in the Florida Catholic:
“Deacon Francis Falotico of Palm Bay is offering a memorial to the unborn to churches, schools and organizations for the cost of the materials and shipping. The monument will be hand cast in cultured marble. It depicts Mary crying tears for the holy innocents. Included with the sculpture will be a plaque with the words ‘In Memory of God’s Holy Innocents. The Aborted.’”
Now some 27 years later, Deacon Falotico is 87 years, and still hoping to share his art. Since his wife died four years ago, he has dedicated most of his time to his art.
“Each person is called to do something for the Lord,” said the deacon. “This is the gift God gave me and this is the gift I have to share, and I have to share it till the end.”
Originally from New Jersey, he was ordained a deacon for the Diocese of Trenton in 1980. He never dreamed about becoming a deacon, but when he and his wife attended Mass one day in the 1970s, they heard a man speak about becoming the first deacon for the diocese. The man asked the congregation for prayers as he talked about his vocation.
While Falotico, a father of three, didn’t say anything as he exited the church with his wife, she turned to him and said, “I know. You want to be a deacon.” He was surprised at what she said, but he thought about it and agreed with her. He pursued the vocation with her blessing, and served in New Jersey until he, his wife, and youngest daughter moved to Maui, Hawaii, to run a sailboat charter business in 1984.
He continued his service as a deacon as the island diocese’s first and only deacon at that time.
“It worked out the way God wanted it,” Deacon Falotico recalled. “The priest of the local parish had had a heart attack, and he was three months in the hospital in Honolulu. So, they asked me to take care of things, so I did.”
The natural setting of Hawaii offered vista after vista for an artist like Deacon Falotico. His love for the island is evident as he feels his most natural in Hawaiian shirts. “You can take me out of Hawaii, but Hawaii stays with you,” he said with a laugh.
But the family found their way back to the mainland in 1991, this time calling Palm Bay, Florida, their home. Along with serving the church as a deacon, he continued his work as an artist. While he always hopes others find spiritual inspiration from his artwork, there is no denying he receives a prayer filled gift from his work. He recalled a painting he produced decades ago of Jesus sitting at a table. As he was completing the work, he paused and thought, “I got to get a glass of red wine.” Then a moment later he said to himself, “I need some bread.”
“I continued painting and didn’t stop until it was finished,” he recalled. “After I finished painting, I ate my bread and drank my wine, and to me, it felt like I was taking communion. Painting this piece, it felt like I was involved on a deeper prayer level. It was amazing.”
While his memories have not faded, Deacon Falotico is ready to create new artistic memories. This time his focus is on the Stations of the Cross.
“Everyone should have access to the Stations of the Cross at any time,” the deacon said, as he recalled how the Via Dolorosa made an impression on him as a Catholic school student. “The stations might be inside the church, but those doors need to be locked at night. Everyone should be able to walk to Calvary with our Blessed Mother at any time of the day. If I’m able to bring our faith to those who are in need of a more spiritual connection to Mary, I would love to do that through my art, through my stations.”
Deacon Falotico has drawn pictures for each station. His goal is to create a bas relief sculpture of each image. He would sculpt each six and- a-half by eight-foot artwork, then have it cast in bronze. With each station, he would also have a prayer plaque cast in bronze.
Currently he completed the first station, which would cost about $1,500 a piece to cast in bronze. Deacon Falotico has already paid $900 for the first station plaque, but he hopes a parish interested in offering outdoor Stations of the Cross might be able to find sponsors for the rest of the bronzing costs.
“It probably would take me a few days to complete each station,” the deacon said. “I believe the Stations of the Cross are very powerful. And I feel the stations should be made be available for people who want to sit and meditate and walk with Jesus, to meditate on what his mother felt. That’s what really gets to me.
“I just hope the man upstairs gives me enough time to finish everything.”
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By Jean Gonzalez of the Florida Catholic staff, January 11, 2024